|Title:||The development of linguistic constraints: Phonological innovations|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||University of Victoria|
|Abstract:||This article examines two well-known innovations in Canadian English
(CE)—(æ) Retraction and Lowering (e.g., mad, pat) and (aw) Fronting (e.g., loud,
mouse)— with a view to discovering the routes by which phonological change diffuses. The data are from St. John's, Newfoundland, one of the few remaining Canadian communities where the variety spoken by the founding population remains relatively intact.
Because this variety is leveling toward CE (Clarke, 1991), the St. John's context enables us to tap into processes of dialect shift while they are taking place. This glimpse reveals the developmental nature of linguistic constraints during the early stages of change. Moreover, by focusing on preadolescent and adolescent speakers, age groups that are often overlooked in favor of adult samples (Eckert,
1988:183), the analysis situates the locus of change on the adolescent years. Taken together, these results provide an important gauge for tracking the progress of phonological change.
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